Meet our Team: Stefanie Abdayem, Au.D.
Consumers have many different experiences when they look into treating their hearing difficulties. One major difference in success with hearing treatment is whether you look to over-the-counter amplifiers or true hearing aid technology and fitting from an audiologist. This week’s blog is a testimonial from our lovely patient, Jerry, who shares his experiences in his journey to better hearing and quality of life.
My hearing deteriorated gradually over time and I really didn’t notice until people closest to me brought it to my attention. I had been turning up the volume on the TV or radio and also, I learned, talking loudly. One day I read an advertisement in a magazine about revolutionary new devices that could solve all my issues with hearing loss. They had rechargeable batteries with a wall outlet charger included. They fit over my ears with a tube running down into my ear canal. Naturally I ordered them.
They were bulky, with the ear “buds” being way too big and uncomfortable. I tested them out while sitting in front of my TV. Before putting them on, I turned on the TV and put the volume on a normal level that suited my wife. Then I put the devices on and they did indeed make the sound increase in volume. But so did all the other sounds around me. It seemed like everything was blasting into my ears. Then when my wife talked to me, the “noise” was unbearable. The devices had a volume control, but that just turned down the roar! I even tried using only one. That actually increased the confusion of sound I was hearing and made matters worse.
Since I could not tolerate the noise, I thought maybe I could just use these devices when on the phone. That actually worked a little, but the quality was poor, and again the background noise was distracting. And if other sound occurred (i.e. a copier, air conditioner, or other people talking), I couldn’t understand any speech.
I should have followed my instinct that if it is too good to be true, it probably isn’t true.
My next step was to obtain professionally prescribed and fitted hearing aids. I was amazed at the technology employed, from the hearing test, to programming my devices via computer to fit my exact determined hearing deficiencies. I remember driving home with them on for the first time and hearing my turn signal. Also, I could hear the radio more clearly than I had for many years. The road and wind noise was still a problem, but I could at least converse better with people in the car and enjoy the lyrics of a song. I always thought hearing aids would be unsightly and make me stand out as perhaps handicapped, but the main device was small compared to the cheapies and tucked behind my ears, with an almost invisible tube curling down into my ear. They were very comfortable. People were always surprised when they learned I was wearing them.
Also, in the second of two programs (changed back and forth by depressing a small button on the devices) I could change to a program which was specifically designed for me by the doctor for when I was in a restaurant setting. P2 as it was called, enhanced voices nearer to me, and softened the “noise” of other voices and sounds in the room. It worked great! I wore those hearing aids for about 5-years and had a new hearing test after around 3-years. The Audiologist was able to tweak them a little as my hearing had changed marginally.
I now realize that I had been slowly becoming less of a participant at family gatherings and work functions. I was once somewhat the life of the party. Those new hearing aids put me back into more of a joining mode, as I was much more comfortable when hearing most of every conversation, and all of the jokes. I always hated missing a punch line!!
I now have new set of ReSound GN hearing devices. All of the devices’ features are controlled from the ReSound App on my phone. The most exciting feature is streaming sound directly into my hearing aids. I use this feature while talking on my smartphone or listening to the radio through the phone. And no one else can overhear what I’m hearing (I’m like a Secret Service Agent). Talking on the cell phone was always the scariest for me while working (afraid I might miss an important point from a client), and this feature is absolutely a blessing. I can also control many sound variations and volume and wind noise etc. from the phone.
The other day I had the opportunity to be a passenger in a Chevy Suburban for 7 hours with 4 other people, and the radio on. While sitting in a middle row seat, I had plenty of time to fiddle with the app and experiment with different settings. I finally found the perfect mix of settings for that car ride, a blend of the level of comfort noise, speech focus, wind reduction, and bass-treble settings. Then I was able to save that balance of settings to a Favorite location. Now when I’m driving or a passenger, I just tap the Favorite star on the phone App, and I am all tuned in for a car ride! I actually have several saved Favorite stars for different work and personal situations which are in my daily routine. I also wanted to add, hearing aids have made it easier for my wife of 36-years to live with me I’m told!
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